The Strypes – LIVE @ Electric Ballroom, Camden

Rock n roll legends in the making?

This is a question I have asked myself since the day I discovered The Strypes back in January, blown away by the video for “Got love if you want it”, a song that provided me with renewed hope for rock ‘n’ roll and a timeless music genre.

I first saw the Strypes live at The Social (a compact little venue in London’s West End) standing next to Carl Barat who like me and the rest of the crowd that night were equally taken back by their ability to play like they had been doing for their formative years.  The lads have done their fair share of touring since, playing to some of their most passionate fans in Japan alongside Glastonbury, secret garden party and Electric picnic festivals to mention a few.

On arrival at the intimate Camden venue I managed to catch the tail end of an enthusiastic sounding acoustic set from John Lennon McCullagh. Having a little time to take in the atmosphere before the lads were due to come on I noticed a nicely mixed crowd of old and young, a lot of mod cuts and a few skinhead braces that could be seen scattered around at the front as everyone eagerly awaited the gig about to unfold. I also couldn’t help but notice Chris Difford (lead singer of squeeze) sporting his thick black rimmed glasses at the side of the stage providing moral support and some valuable mentoring after years in the music business.

As the boys took to the stage opening with one of their own songs ‘Mystery Man’ it wasn’t until the magnificent version of The Kinks’ ‘Hog For You Baby’ that something really hit a chord with the audience. This sixties classic set everyone alive from quiet admiration to some serious head and shoulder movements. As the track came to an end, the Irish four piece received a loud and well deserved round of applause and one thing I couldn’t help but notice other than their youthful, sixties attire is that musically they are very tight and clearly loving what they do.

Songs that really stuck out were those written by the band; the brilliant drumming in ‘Angel eyes’, the bluesy ‘What the people don’t see’ (pure harmonica heaven!), ‘What A Shame’ for the perfectly delivered vocals from Ross / Josh and the catchy sound of ‘Hometown Girls’.

Peter O’Hanlon (bass / harmonica) provided a memorable part of the evening, absolutely owning the stage playing the Harmonica to Slim Harpo’s ‘Love if you want it’ at the same time as shaking his curly haired mop and sending the crowd into a frenzy of excitement and admiration for this musical talent.

As the band continued to feed off the lively audience, Josh McClorey (vocals, lead guitar) and spokesperson called upon everyone ‘to go fucking mental’ before introducing the popular ‘Blue collar Jane’ and Willie Dixon’s ‘You Can’t Judge a Book by the Cover’ which benefitted from an audience sing along. The evening was then brought to a close with my favourite rendition of Bobby Troup’s ‘(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66’ and “See See Rider”, a 12 bar blues cover which is up there with other covers done by Elvis, The Animals and Chuck Willis.

All in all it was great to see how far the lads have come and for any of the critics out there, yes they do play a fair amount of covers with the help of the drummer Evan Walsh (and his outstanding knowledge of this genre) but then isn’t it great to hear music created by rock n roll pioneers bought back to life and to the attention of the younger generation?

Yes I think it is.

Toby Fischer